My “Stations of the cross”
by Robert Docter –
An Easter pilgrim moves meditatively around the cathedral exploring thoughts and feelings triggered by pictures portraying the anguish and pain of Jesus of Nazareth during his last twenty-four hours in human form.
These images flood the “cathedral of my mind” and become my “stations of the cross”—for I am that pilgrim today.
My first station is titled The Deal. It reveals Christ in spiritual form—looking in as Judas Iscariot negotiates a deal with the high priest to “hand over to him” the one called Jesus. The silver lies scattered on the table of my mind, and the face of Judas bears a certain resemblance to mine. I meditate on the multiple times of my betrayals of the one I have chosen to identify as Messiah, the Son of God, the Christ. I marvel that my “deals” have often involved much less even than thirty pieces of silver. I meditate on the meaning of betrayal—of consistent commitment—of judgmentalism.
Station two for me occurs at his Last Supper—the Passover meal at which he asks us to remember him. The blood of the Passover lamb symbolically becomes the meal’s wine and the bread becomes his body. I look at this image and realize that to remember him I must first know him, and that the symbols at meals that trigger my daily remembrance of him must first be identified by me and then treated with the respect they deserve. I meditate on my shallow, ritualistic expression of what could be sacramental remembrance.
Station three is titled With a Kiss. It shows Judas completing his part of the bargain as he presses his face on Christ’s. Soldiers move forward toward Jesus standing tall and resolute as the crowd around him scatters quickly. For me, this station is a challenge of forgiveness—even when it’s extremely difficult—for to betray “with a kiss” must be the cruelest blow in any relationship. I meditate on the meaning of trust in my life that comes only at the expense of risk and praise God for the certainty I feel in my relationship with those close around me.
My station four is called The Trial. It portrays Pilate, leaning over from his seat of power as his wife whispers in his ear—members of the Sanhedrin stand close by and the crowd—now a mob – is deafening even in the silence of the frame. Before this picture I meditate on the reality that life guarantees no fairness—that corrupt power often dispels true justice. As I meditate at this station, I affirm my desire to fight for “liberty and justice” for all—to confront unfairness where I see it, and to increase my awareness and correction of any unfairness I sense in my own life. As I look at Pilate’s face I wonder at my own vacillation, my own uncertainty in times of deciding, my own need to please— and my own self-awareness grows.
Station five is titled: The Long Walk Home. It reveals a scourged and bloody Christ, beaten and weakened without food or water, lifting and dragging the heavy crossed beams that make his burden—struggling to carry them to Golgotha, a place of death from which new life springs. One stands ready in the crowd to help. This station speaks to me of character and willingness —of perseverance through suffering—of steadfast courage in the face of extreme difficulty—of the power of the will to achieve—of finishing the course—of going home. Sometimes, the world around us simply demands physical strength. At that time I want to be ready. It shows me, as well, that spiritual strength comes according to my personal insight into the choices and behaviors of Jesus. At that time I want to be willing.
My station six is titled Empathy. It reveals Jesus on the cross feeling with those around him—his mother—his lonely disciple—the good prisoner next to him—the Roman centurion – and for me. He reaches out with nail-pierced hands cradling his remarkable grace—his never-ending love—his always-available forgiveness. He became the Passover Lamb that grants me meaning in my life. I know he feels my pain during the difficulties of my existence. I hear him speak to me—urging me to “hang in” right to the end.
Station seven is titled Surprise! It’s a mystified, happy face with a barely believing smile, wide open eyes and a half open mouth unable to speak. It happened to many following his resurrection—a stranger suddenly communicates a powerful spiritual connection that reminds someone of Christ—almost as if he says “Surprise—it’s me.” It’s a wonderful moment if we’re open to it—if we’re ready for it—if we believe it’s possible—and if we relate to strangers among us.